The importance of tears

Our tears are wonderfully complex structures that form an essential part of your eyes health and help to ensure crisp, clear vision.

Not all our tears consist of the same components. There are basically 3 types of tears:
• Continuous basal tears that keep the eye moist, offer nutrients and provide a defence mechanism to the eye through antibodies, enzymes and other immune components that help protect the eyes against microorganisms.
• Reflex tears that help flush out noxious airborne gasses (onions/ perfume/ smoke) or small particles (dust/ seeds /miggies). They have distinctly different enzymes and antibodies than the other two types of tears

  • Emotional tears (like crying or laughing) are said to have trace elements of the body’s natural pain-relieving hormones and also help to rid the body of stress-related chemicals. Humans are the only species that seem to cry for emotional reasons, although there are some reports that elephants shed tears in grief.
  • Tears also consist of basically 3 layers:
    • A mucin gel layer that anchors the tears to the corneal epithelium cells – this is produced by goblet cells
  • A water layer that provides the lubrication to the eye – this is produced by the Lacrimal gland
  • An oily lipid layer that seals the water layer for a smooth surface that prevents evaporation – this is produced by the Meibomian glands
    Dry eye syndrome occurs if any one of these layers is insufficient. About 20% of the population suffer from dry eyes and report such symptoms as:
    • Scratchy gritty burning eyes
    • Red tired eyes
    • Light and wind sensitivity
    • Watery eyes (yes)
    • Blurry vision
    Reasons for dry eyes can include a multiple of reasons such as:
    • Deficiency in tear producing structures – most notably the oily layer
    • Working and living in dry conditions or airconditioning
    • High volume reading and computer work
    • Prolonged contact lens wear
    • Medications such as antihistamines, nasal decongestants, blood pressure, anti-depressants, Parkinsons meds, HRT and contracption use as well as Acne medication
    • Age and Gender – being over 50 and being female
    • Previous Lasik or cataract surgery
    • Eye lid positioning (drooping)
    • Vitamin Deficiency (Vit A / B12 D E and C)
    • Eye drops that claim to help red eye relief
    • Medical conditions such as Sjorgens, Diabetes, Lupus, Blepahritis or arthritis
  • Mask-related dry eye (MADE) is a new phenomenon as poor fitting masks direct airflow increasing tear evaporation. It could also interfere with lid functioning causing more drying out of the eye.
    Having a seal over the nose bridge of your mask for a snug fit helps, and taking it off when not required brings relief.
    • Home-Remedies to minimise Dry Eye Syndrome
    • Blink at least every 5 minutes to ensure all the tear producing glands are stimulated
    • Take enough breaks from near-tasks – 20/20 rule states that every 20 minutes you have a 20 second break and stare into the distance.
    • Drink enough water and consider a humidifier in your room
    • Limit Alcohol and smoking where possible
    • Nutritional supplements such as Vitamins and Probiotics. A 1000mg Omega 3 also helps (but be careful if you are on blood-thinning medication as it thins the blood)
    • Lubrication Drops
    • Wrap-around sunglasses
    • Eye-lid hygiene – remove all eye-lid margin surface debris/ make-up with a Q-tip dipped in warm water and diluted Baby shampoo. Apply a warm cloth/cotton pads over the eyes and gently massage upward around the bottom lid. These scrubs eliminate the excess bacteria and stimulate the oil glands.
  • For more serious dry eye symptoms, you would need more specialized intervention at an Ophthalmologist that might consist of :
    • Punctum Plug insertion into your tear duct to preserve the tear-lake
    • Regulated Pulse therapy (IRPL) or Lipid flow treatment
    • Antibiotic or anti-inflammatory drops
    • Fortified eye drops centrifuged from your own blood plasma
    • Eye Lid positioning surgery for better closure and contact between the lids(ectropion repair)
    With this short overview we hope you have enjoyed the marvel of your eyes design. Even if it bored you to tears – it might have been worthwhile.

Supplied by Optirite, The Islands Shopping Centre, tel: 012 244 4013